August 21, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 4

Our lives are for God’s glory – plain and simple – but we’ve bought the lie.  The lie that it is all about us – that we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps – that life is what I make it.  It simply isn’t true.  This is especially hard when we experience fame or success – as in our story today.

King Nebuchadnezzar had it all.  Everyone bowed down to him – he had the choicest of accommodations, food, and women.  He had everything anyone could ever want… but he forgot where it came from.  He began to think it was because of him – his wisdom – his ability – his leadership.

God gave him a dream.  God often spoke through dreams and the king knew it.  The dream bothered him – what could it mean?  He asked all his magicians, enchanters, astrologers and fortune-tellers – no one knew.  Then someone thought of Daniel – God lived in him and would enable him to understand the dream.  Daniel explained that the kingdom was soon to be taken from Nebuchadnezzar if he didn’t repent and do what’s right (v.27).  He simply refused – he had a hard heart.

So… God let him live like a crazy man – like a wild animal.  He ate grass like a cow, he lived outdoors, his hair was as long as eagle’s feathers and his nails were like bird claws.  This would continue until he learned “that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.”

This is true today, too.  God still rules in the same way.  He’s the one that allows us to prosper and suffer – he lets you flourish in business – find the right guy – build a successful church.  He is the one that rules and gives success and prosperity to who HE chooses.

If you are living a life of prosperity – it’s because God allowed it and He wants you to use it for His glory.  If you don’t – He might take it away.  If you’re struggling – it’s because God wants to get your attention and turn your focus to Him.

Never forget the words God spoke to king Nebuchadnezzar, “the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.”

Posted by: Tim Parsons

August 20, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 3

There are so many good lessons to learn from this popular story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  The passage will speak for itself, but I’ll simply outline and summarize the story.

Bow Down or Be Obedient (vs. 1-18)

God had been using Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) to bring judgment upon the Jews, though Neb didn’t know.  Neb just knew things were going well and he was feeling pretty good about himself.  So, he had a large golden image made for people to bow down to and worship.  Those who didn’t bow down to the golden image were to be thrown into a fiery furnace to be burned up.

 

Can you imagine being faced with the choice of bowing down to a huge golden figure or be thrown into a fiery death chamber?   I simply cannot relate to such extreme circumstances.  I’ve never faced a “bow down to an idol or die in a fire pit” scenario.   To guys like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, the issue was not really “bow down or die” but instead “bow down or be obedient.”  So, they chose to face certain death (unless the Lord rescued them) rather than bow down to a false idol.

I can relate to the facing the choice of bowing down to idols or be obedient.  We all can.  Every day we have the option of bowing down to various idols or being obedient.  We all know what some of these idols are, don’t we?  What’s your normal response to “bow down or be obedient?”

 

Consequences of Obedience/Not Bowing Down (vs. 19-23)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow to the idol.  They were willing to face the consequences of disobedience to the king and obedience to the Lord.  So, Neb had them bound together and thrown into a fiery furnace, which was so hot that it killed some of the men who were throwing them in the furnace.

These three guys obeyed the Lord and were willing to face the consequences.  Our obedience and choosing not to bow down to idols could possibly result in us facing extreme consequences.  For example, you might not get thrown into a fiery furnace, but you might face something like getting thrown out of your position at work for choosing obedience.

Rewards of Obedience/Not Bowing Down (vs. 24-30)

It didn’t take long for Neb to see that the three men did not die in the furnace.  In fact, he saw the three men walking around in the furnace…unharmed…along with a FOURTH person!  Hmmm, I wonder who that fourth person was?  This is about 600 years before the birth of Jesus, but there’s definitely a gospel message here in this story.

Anyway, because of their obedience, they experienced the rewards of obedience.  They experienced the glory of God being made known through them.  That’s the ultimate reward for our obedience—God’s glory/His fame is made known through us.  That’s worth the price of obedience, eh?

Posted by: Rich Duffield

August 19, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 2:18-49

Giving God The Credit …

“I’m in over my head,” is what I often feel.  And the truth is, in life we will often find ourselves in situations that are full of pressure, beyond our own control, or more than we think we can handle.

It is in those times that we tend to look “up.”  We pray, and ask God for His help.  And often times with a heart of humility, a desperate need for God’s grace, and an exhausted cry to God, He answers.  I regularly walk away from things and think of how thankful I am that God came through.  I say to myself, “there is no way this could have turned out like this without the Holy Spirit’s help.”  I’m not sure if you can relate, but many times right before engaging in whatever the situation is, I feel an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.  It’s in those times that I cry desperately for God’s help.

But, as encouraging as this is, what happens after that is usually sinful…

I take the credit.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

In today’s passage we see Daniel interpret the kings dream.  Because of his great work of interpretation the king promotes Daniel.  It’s an amazing story.  But what happens in the midst of all of this is even more incredible…Daniel gives God all the credit.

In verse 23, Daniel responds by praising God for revealing the meaning:

“I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
 for you have given me wisdom and strength.
  You have told me what we asked of you
 and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

In verse 28, Daniel tells the King who has revealed this interpretation:

“But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

In verse 45, Daniel tells the King again whom the credit goes to:

“The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”

In this situation, Daniel could have thanked God for the revelation but taken the credit in front of people.  Hoping for praise and promotion.  But Daniel made sure to give credit to God.

Because Daniel gave God the credit, the King was moved towards a proper perspective of God.

In verse 47, the King acknowledges Daniel’s God:

“The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.”

Today we can learn that we shouldn’t pray and ask for God’s help, yet take the credit when God comes through.  When we give God the credit, the people around us give God credit.  They give Him the credit due His name.  And who knows, it may convince people to give God a try for the first time.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

August 18, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 2:1-17

Talk about flying off the handle! Nebuchadnezzar really wanted an interpretation of his dream, but he could find no one to give such a thing to him. He upped the stakes for the “wise men of Babylon” because he was tired of their fake words. Here’s what he wanted: someone to not only give interpretation, but to recount the dream as well without him giving any inkling as to the content of the dream. He wanted a quasi-psychic, mind-reading fortune teller. At the end of the day, nobody met these requirements…. and he had them all killed.

Nebuchadnezzar is a prime example of an overly proud and power-hungry autocratic authoritarian. He had no sense of real justice. He did not serve the true God. People were literally (and fatally) expendable resources. This kind of rule would soon merit harsh judgment.

God used these dreams to get Nebuchadnezzar’s attention and God used Daniel as His mouthpiece to get the point across loud and clear. We all approach this story in scripture with a downward eye on Nebuchadnezzar, but before we throw a stone his way, should we pause to see ourselves in this story?

We may not be killing people and ruling in an unjust way but every single one of us has sin struggles. We all fight to be the god of our own lives. We want it our way and we want our name in the spotlight. So… how is God trying to get your attention?

A recent sermon?
Seeing the downfall of a friend/family member due to sin?
A verse of scripture that won’t leave your head?
A close friend’s rebuke?
A season of discipline from God?
Consequences from a wrong decision?
________________________?

My advice (to myself, and to anyone reading):

Stop.
Listen to the voice and heart of the God who loves you.
Obey.

Posted by: Todd Thomas